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Carl Randall— Exploring Aspects of Japanese Culture through ‘Tokyo Portraits’

Welcome to the new blog! Hoping to blend science, art, or anything in between—our new blog aims to bring to you the ideas and creations of new artists. Whether they are up-and-coming, or established in their craft—we want you to hear it here first. The first artist brought to you in this series is Carl Randall (b. 1975). Randall is a UK born artist, predominantly based in Japan, who has gained recognition for his extensive work on Japanese culture. This post explores his current exhibit ‘Tokyo Portraits’ which currently runs from 16th January to 12th March 2014 at the Daiwa Anglo Japanese Foundation in London.


When I introduced a friend to the work of Carl Randall, he told me that he thought the palette of his Japanese works was reminiscent of Weimar art; not especially colourful, perhaps even monotone. It seems fitting therefore that Randall has worked to this end, writing that he concentrates on themes of:

 urban issues such as overpopulation, isolation, community, and the anonymity of the city dweller.

Colour is obviously an integral part of exploring these themes to a deeper level. There is a freshness in this approach which makes Randall’s work so appealing, so therefore it was no surprise that he was chosen as the winner of the 2012 BP Travel Award—an accolade awarded by the National Portrait Gallery in London—commissioning a modern-day interpretation of the life and culture along the modern day Tokaido Road. Historically this road ran from Tokyo to Kyoto, and was a major focal point for the famous Edo-period artist Utagawa Hiroshige (1797 – 1858) in his series of woodblock prints ‘The Fifty Three Stations of the Tokaido’.

This was by no means Randall’s first exposure to Japanese culture. As a PhD student at the Tokyo University of Fine Arts, he won several awards relating to his work on the portrayal of Japanese themes.

‘Tokyo Portraits’

His most recent exhibition entitled ‘Tokyo Portraits’ opened on the 16th of January 2014 at the Daiwa Anglo Japanese Foundation in London, with an introduction by the English author David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas, Ghostwritten). This solo exhibition features 15 of his works embracing ideas of Japanese identity and is currently open until the 12th of March, 2014.

Artist Carl Randall
Carl Randall (left) with David Mitchell at the solo ‘Tokyo Portraits’ Exhibition in London.
Daiwa Anglo Japanese Foundation Tokyo Portraits
‘Mr Kitazawa’s Noodle Bar’ and ‘Tokyo Subway’ on display at the Tokyo Portraits Exhibition in London

These works are collected from paintings that date from 2006 to the present day, and explore different themes within Japanese portraiture. A collection of 12 of the 15 pieces on display are shown below.

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If you wish to explore the exhibition and  find out more about it, then there is a further opportunity to hear Carl Randall discuss his work and experiences in Japan (again at the Daiwa Anglo Japanese Foundation in London) on the 13th of February 2014 (6 pm -7pm) with a drinks reception to follow. The format of this talk will be a discussion with the artist and Head of Painting at the Slade Institute of Art, Andrew Stahl. This promises to be an illuminating evening. The artist’s talk is free, however booking is essential – this can be arranged via the online Booking Form at the Daiwa website.  Further information about the evening can be found here.

The art doesn’t stop here however! For additional up-coming exhibits and presentations –  along with a current comprehensive art portfolio – information be found on the artist’s personal website at

Many thanks go to Carl Randall for providing all of the details and accompanying photographs of his work.

—Le Nouvel Artiste



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